Wednesday, August 31, 2011

NIGHTMARE NETWORKING - BLEEDING EARS ALERT

The business world is a real mix of people.

And nowhere is this more evident than at networking events. All types of business folk come to these gatherings for a fair number of reasons but meeting new people, making contacts, possibly forming relationships and winning business further down the line would be near the top of the list for most people.

One of my earliest network nightmares was at an evening event, a sit-down meal with speakers, who turned out to be informative and helpful. That’s more than could be said for the chap sitting on my right-hand side whose company supplied drain cleaning products. On and on he went about this solution and that detergent, the types of jobs his firm had undertaken, the problems encountered, the clients who caused him grief. “Excuse me, I’m eating,” I should have said. If someone could have magically flushed him away along with his pile of leaflets and their pie charts I would have been grateful.

On another occasion, I got stuck with the droner – rattling on interminably about his company after thrusting his business card down my throat within seconds of meeting me. Then, when someone else joined us, he did the same again – a double dose of boredom. At least I knew he wasn’t making me a special case.

Another event, another shudder. A woman asked me about my line of work. I started to talk but she, after examining my lapel badge, cut me off by saying that PR was a waste of time, no way would she ever, ever speak to the media because one newspaper had misquoted one of her friends and got her name wrong. Fair enough. Despite that, I asked what she did (a professional expert on everything, seemingly) and, 25 minutes later, my ears were bleeding. Taxi!

On the other hand, I’ve met some people who are excellent at network events as they share a conversation and are quick to introduce you to others they know. Heather Alexander at Clearsight Consulting definitely comes into this category - http://www.clearsight-consulting.com/

But, you live and learn and nowadays my experience at networking events is different. I go with a relaxed attitude, accepting that people are there for a shared purpose and that works for me.

I’ve also learned from reading generous online tips provided by the likes of Jackie Cameron of Cameron Consulting whose thoughts actually prompted this post.

http://www.facebook.com/Speakupforyourself

On the Glasgow Business Network group page on LinkedIn there’s a harder-hitting discussion under way, equally interesting and relevant. http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Why-do-you-network-2226692.S.68244307?qid=d9166a43-54bd-4f4b-88f7-1cdd0098ec9c&trk=group_most_popular-0-b-ttl&goback=.gmp_2226692

No networking event or business gathering is the same for two people. How could it be? I like meeting new people and I find the follow-up contact, such as the “good to meet you” email, often brings about another 1-2-1 meeting and that can been good for business. Networking does not provide instant solutions nor immediate new business in my book.

You will, I hope, note that this post hasn’t been written po-faced. So if we meet at an event, I promise I won’t thrust a business card at you instantly, I won’t bore you with a lengthy diatribe about what I do and how wonderful I am at doing it. Instead, it would be good to have a chat and see what happens. OK?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

MIDSUMMER MERRY MADNESS

This is a post that my darling wife is unlikely to read.

My annual rant, you see, about C-mastime has begun at the end of a glorious sunny period. Normally, this type of complaint from me kicks in late in September or early October when all the ho-ho-ho, hoo-hah relentlessly gets under way.

But I didn’t start this, honest.

Famous big stores in London – I refuse to give them a free plug – are to blame for this moan. They have, incredibly, launched their festive season with more than 140 days still to go to December 25. It’s not real. November 25 is time enough, just about, I would suggest.

It’s bizarre and worrying. I pity the shop staff who may have to listen to C- word related songs by Slade, Wizzard and others before they’ve possibly even been on a Costa sunshine holiday or the next series of X Factor has started.

Crikey, we’re in the middle of the schools’ summer holiday here in Scotland, for goodness sake.

If you read the so-called explanations in this article

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/just-149-days-left-to-go-christmas-comes-early-to-harrods-2327918.html then I think we are doomed to year-round festive frolics.

I used to feel hugely dispirited on returning from an annual overseas holiday in September. I’d pop into our local supermarket to stock up with essentials only to be confronted inside the front entrance with outsize tins of biscuits and C-cards. Tinsel time was already trying to wear away my suntan.

C-time has officially gone commercially bonkers…for longer and longer each year.

You know you can’t possibly be able to have a good time unless you’re spending loads on needless presents most can ill-afford to buy, forking out on over-priced, mass produced traditional turkey dinners in a conveyor belt of “sittings” in hotels and clubs, or boozing till you drop for the sake of it. Well, that’s the advertising message I get and do my utmost to resist and ignore.

One feeble idea that these stores are catering for overseas visitors wanting to stock up on “British” decorations for their homes is laughable. Presumably these visitors can’t order such much needed gems over the Internet?

One senior executive at one of the two London outlets involved in this madness, no doubt rubbing her hands together gleefully and with a smile wider than Santa’s, says she can see a time when: “… we offer a capsule Christmas collection throughout the year.” This is a fancy, snake-oiled, marketing-tongued way of saying all-year round, which is not a pleasing thought to me.

In the run-up to the festive season we are increasingly brow beaten to consider spending our very hard-earned cash, mostly on rubbish (apart from C-pudding and mince pies, I must confess.) Now, the commercial brains behind the big stores and chains would love us to spend more on C-time for months in advance. Take your sunglasses off and buy the fake snow spray, they enthuse.

But I refuse to join in. It’s crackers, and I don’t mean the kind with corny jokes inside.